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Cable sobre las implicaciones de rearmar a Georgia

En octubre de 2009, la embajada americana en Moscú comunica que el apoyo militar podría beneficiar a Irán

ID: 212589
Date: 2009-06-17 14:09:00
Origin: 09MOSCOW1591
Source: Embassy Moscow
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Dunno: 09MOSCOW1225 09MOSCOW840
Destination: VZCZCXRO1322
DE RUEHMO #1591/01 1681409
O 171409Z JUN 09

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MOSCOW 001591


E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/10/2019

B. MOSCOW 0840

Classified By: Ambassador John R. Beyrle: Reasons 1.4 (b, d).

1. (C) Summary: A decision to move towards a more robust
military relationship with Georgia will imperil our efforts
to re-start relations with Russia, if it is not carefully
calibrated and deployed. While Medvedev understands the
strategic and personal benefits of crafting a productive
partnership with the U.S., this impulse is trumped by the
GOR's "absolute" priority placed on expanding Russian
influence in the Eurasian neighborhood, preventing NATO
enlargement, and demonstrating Russia's great power status.
The Russian political class and populace is united behind
these principles, with the August war confirming for the
leadership that the international community lacks the levers
to coerce a change in Russian behavior. Russian criticism of
PfP exercises was both sincere -- anger over the "business as
usual" approach with Saakashvili -- and tactical, designed to
raise the costs of CIS cooperation with the West, but was not
matched by a change in military posture. However, given
consistent warnings over the consequences of weapons sales to
Georgia, we believe a lethal military supply relationship
with Tbilisi would come at the cost of advancing Georgia's
territorial integrity, and could lessen Russian restraint on
weapons transfers to Iran. We believe that keeping the focus
on Georgia's economic and democratic development, while
continuing our military cooperation with Tbilisi through
transparent PfP programming with European partners, and
non-lethal bilateral mil-mil training and assistance, is the
only viable -- if very long-term -- strategy to induce better
Russian behavior and restore Georgian territorial integrity.
Critical to this effort will be building ballast in a
U.S.-Russian relationship that serves as a break on Russia's
worst instincts. End Summary

Showdown Over Georgia?

2. (C) If not carefully calibrated and deployed, a decision
to move towards a more robust military relationship with
Georgia has the very real potential to trigger a dispute on a
set of issues that are both neuralgic and strategic for the
Russian political and military establishment, endangering the
Administration's effort to undertake a fresh start with
Moscow. While Medvedev appears seized with taking charge of
the U.S.-Russian account and placing it on a new footing
during the July summit, this policy impulse will be
subordinate to Russia's "strategic interests" in its Eurasian
neighborhood, as defined by both Medvedev and Putin. Russian
intransigence on the UNOMIG rollover is a conspicuous
illustration of this. We cannot accept this Russian
calculus, but we need to understand what drives the Kremlin
and White House:

-- Russia places an "absolute" priority on expanding its
influence and deepening its integration with neighboring
states, as part of a self-conscious policy to combat the
West's "creep" towards its borders (ref a). Inevitably, the
question of Russia's status in the Eurasian "neighborhood,"
and the presumed zero-sum competition for influence along
Russia's borders, will remain our most contentious bilateral
issue and the likeliest stumbling block to improved
U.S.-Russian relations.

-- Russia opposes any further enlargement of NATO. The
August war in Georgia signaled Moscow's readiness to expend
materiel and men to achieve this goal, even at the cost of
international opprobrium. The fact that NATO membership for
both Georgia and Ukraine is not a front burner priority has
not tempered Moscow's stance, since the Russian leadership
sees this as a temporary reprieve, brought about by European
reservations and not by a change in policy by the Obama

-- Absent a standstill agreement on NATO, which Medvedev
hopes to achieve through discussions over a new European
Security Treaty, Russia presumes that we seek its strategic
neutering. Our principled rejection of a Russian sphere of
influence is read here as a denial of Russia's status as a
great power, and another example of U.S. "double standards,"
rather than a repudiation of a Warsaw Pact mentality.

-- Russia judges that we lack the bilateral or multilateral
levers to coerce it into moderating its stance on Georgia or
reversing its recognition of the conflict territories.
Moscow assumes that we have too many strategic interests in
common to credibly threaten Russia with a cut-off in
relations -- a move that Europe (both old and new) never

MOSCOW 00001591 002 OF 003

seriously contemplated in the wake of the Georgian war.

-- Russian leaders enjoy a policy carte blanche on Georgia,
with respect to domestic public opinion. Polls consistently
show that Russians overwhelmingly welcome Moscow's resurgent
foreign policy, revile Saakashvili, and blame Euro-Atlantic
institutions for Moscow's worsening relations with former
republics and Warsaw Pact partners. There is absolutely no
difference between Medvedev and Putin when it comes to

Russian Warnings Over Mil-Mil Relations

3. (C) Russia has used the previously scheduled Cooperative
Longbow/Cooperative Lancer PfP exercises and U.S./NATO
discussions of Georgian military reform to hint at a
political price tag for continued cultivation of Georgia as a
NATO aspirant. While Russian Ambassador to NATO Rogozin's
characterization of the exercises as "an absurdity and
madness" were discounted in NATO circles, he accurately
channeled Moscow's anger over what was seen as a "business as
usual" policy towards Saakashvili, as well as Moscow's
strategy of raising the potential costs of participation by
other CIS states. Medvedev labeled the exercises
"muscle-flexing," an "outright provocation," and "a mistaken
and dangerous decision," while Putin questioned the "reset"
in U.S.-Russian relations, pointing to the exercises as a
"signal in a different direction." Even mild-mannered DFM
Ryabkov fulminated publicly against the "cheap and
unconvincing arguments" used to justify PfP. Pro-Kremlin and
opposition politicians emphasized that a "return to last
August" or a "new Cold War" might flow from a continued NATO
embrace of Tbilisi. Despite the harsh rhetoric, however,
Russia did not place its troops on alert during the
exercises, which proceeded smoothly.

4. (C) When it comes to weapons sales to Tbilisi, Russian
actions have been harsher. For those few Russian officials
willing to believe that the U.S. did not directly goad
Georgia into attacking, it is an article of faith that
Georgia's military relationship with the U.S. triggered
Saakashvili's fateful miscalculation on August 8. While
accusing Georgia of 30-fold increases in military spending
(at 7-8 percent of GDP), in addition to illicit purchases
from Ukrainian and Israeli middlemen, and an overconfidence
spawned by U.S. assurances of support, the GOR called for an
arms embargo against Georgia in the war's aftermath.
Invoking OSCE and UN conventions against the provision of
offensive weapons to conflict zones, Medvedev then
promulgated a January presidential decree allowing for
unilateral sanctions against countries that assist Tbilisi in
its "remilitarization." Both Medvedev and Putin appear to
believe that the U.S. already has supplied Tbilisi
surreptitiously with arms, which illustrates the invidious
role, as well as dominance, of the security services in
running Russian policy in the Caucasus.

A Better Focus: Economy, CBMS, and PfP

5. (C) From our perspective, the challenge is to
demonstrate that the U.S. will protect its legitimate
interests in the Caucasus -- including support for Georgian
sovereignty, territorial integrity and the democratically
elected government of Georgia -- without triggering a
tit-for-tat military escalation that we cannot win, but that
Georgia can surely lose. From our vantage point, a
burgeoning military supply relationship with Georgia is more
of a liability for Georgia than a benefit. It would do
nothing to secure a long-term resolution of Abkhazia and
South Ossetia, allowing Russia to "justify" its military
buildup in the conflict territories, increasing the
insecurities of the Abkhaz and South Ossetian populations
already distrustful of Saakashvili, and driving the
separatist leaders further into Moscow's arms. It would
almost certainly raise the temperature, rather than
maintaining the unsatisfactory status quo long enough for
economic development and confidence-building measures to chip
away at the current hostile standoff. The ramifications of a
policy clash on weapons sales could also be felt elsewhere,
with Moscow seizing a pretext to move forward on the delivery
of S-300s to Iran.

6. (C) As we have argued separately (ref b), the U.S. will
be most effective in countering Russian actions by acting in
concert with Europe to help Georgia demonstrate to the Abkhaz
and South Ossetians that autonomy with Tbilisi is better than
submission to Russia. Russian corruption, heavy-handedness
and reliance on criminalized local leaders ultimately will

MOSCOW 00001591 003 OF 003

play to Georgia's advantage. While Georgia cannot reconquer
its lost territory by force, it can establish itself as a
democratically vibrant and economically successful model for
the region. By keeping the international focus on economic
assistance to Tbilisi and on creating credible international
monitoring regimes, we can create the time and space to
intensify cooperation with Russia in other areas of strategic
interest, adding ballast to the U.S.-Russian relationship
that could make Moscow think twice about exacerbating
tensions in the Caucasus.

7. (C) This is not to say that the U.S. should be
constrained in providing bilateral non-lethal military
assistance, training, or other equipment clearly directed at
assisting Georgia's basic requirements to control its
borders, maintain law and order and counter terrorism. In
addition, we believe that PfP exercises and programs should
be pursued as part of the standard NATO toolbox for
cooperation with non-member states, notwithstanding Russian
rhetorical umbrage. The value of building Georgian capacity
for international peacekeeping, counter-narcotics,
civil-military emergency preparedness, and anti-terrorism
operations is obvious. PfP has the advantage of greater
transparency and reinforcing a common U.S.-European approach
to Georgia; conceivably, when relations stabilize, Russia
could be included as an observer. While Russian forces will
remain concentrated in the neighboring territories for the
near-term, our goal of securing a Russian drawdown and then
departure will not be accomplished through a U.S. military
sales relationship or lethal training program. Instead, we
should hold Medvedev accountable to the principles of his
European Security Treaty initiative, which are based on
respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty.

Comment: U.S.-Russia Relations Matter

8. (C) We in no way accede to Russian redlines by
acknowledging that Georgia could never win a military
confrontation with Russia, and should not be encouraged to
pursue a strategy that focuses on military force as the
underpinning to a stronger, more stable country. We
recognize that our suggested approach would be deeply
dissatisfying to Saakashvili, but we see no short-term fix to
the generational estrangement triggered by the August war and
no way to neutralize the advantages of geography, size, and
capabilities enjoyed by Russia. Instead, consistent and
coordinated initiatives by the U.S. and Europe to assist
Georgia, implement monitoring regimes, and persuade Russia to
engage credibly will be better advanced in an environment
where the U.S. and Russia are not in a hostile standoff. Our
assessment is that if we say "yes" to a significant military
relationship with Tbilisi, Russia will say "no" to any
medium-term diminution in tensions, and feel less constrained
absent reverting to more active opposition to critical U.S.
strategic interests.
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